Economics Working Papers
 

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date

9-30-2021

Abstract

This paper is a contribution to the Erasmus Journal of Economics and Philosophy symposium on Dasgupta and Goyal’s “Narrow Identities” (2019) that models how individuals develop social identities. They do not distinguish categorical and relational social identities, model only social group social identities, minimize intersectionality (having multiple social group identities), and ignore inter-relational, social role social identities. In a club theory-like analysis, they portray the world as locked into polarized social group rivalries, where democracy matters little compared to social group loyalty. A problem with explaining social identity only in terms of social group identity is that the ‘identify with’ basis of social group loyalty undermines saying people are distinct individuals. Dasgupta and Goyal use the standard circular preferences conception of what makes people distinct individuals, so they cannot say individuals do not disappear into social groups. However, a relational social roles-based social identity analysis offers a way of explaining how people can be distinct individuals and have social identities, particularly where social group identities are connected to social role identities. This analysis is outlined using a distinction between relatively closed and relatively open behavioral domains.

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